Anime Boxing Classicashita No Joeto Give Rocky Run
Before Rocky Balboa’s inspirational climb up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a scrappy young Japanese orphan named Joe Yabuki fought his way out of prison to boxing superstardom. And now, forty-plus years after the debut of Asao Takamori and Tetsuya Chiba’s classic boxing manga, Ashita no Joe is getting the live-action treatment, with a feature film set for release on February 11th.
A seminal title in the history of anime and manga, Ashita no Joe or Tomorrow’s Joe, set the standard for the intense, often-theatrical sports genre. A heart wrenching, and at times, brutally violent tale of redemption, honor and determination, the story of Joe Yabuki transcended the pages of the voluminous manga, most famously with a fan-staged funeral for Joe’s rival, Rikiishi Toru, in a boxing ring back in 1970.
With the popularity of current sports series like The Prince of Tennis and Hajime no Ippo, another boxing title, it’s a shame Ashita no Joe has yet to be licensed for release stateside. However, if you’re at all curious about the appeal of sports manga and anime, Ashita no Joe is the perfect place to start, as its influence can be found in so many of today’s popular sports titles.
As for the live-action film, as is the trend these days with Japanese anime/manga film adaptations, pop idol Tomohisa Yamashita will step into the ring as the titular boxing folk hero, Joe Yabuki. Last week, we told you about the Space Battleship Yamato live-action film, which stars Takuya Kimura of the Japanese boyband juggernaut SMAP. Whether or not the pair can fill the shoes of two of anime/manga’s most iconic heroes remains to be seen.